What is a Legal Nurse Consultant?

Legal Nurse Consultants play a powerful role in the litigation process by bridging the gap between medicine and the judicial system.

Legal nurse consultants are Registered Nurses with specialized training. They are hired to use their clinical experience and specialized health care education to interpret research and analyze medically-related issues relevant to a legal case or claim.

Based on their investigations, they provide an informed opinion on the delivery of health care and its results.

Legal nurse consultants practice their trade with law firms, Federal, State and local government offices, insurance companies, hospital risk management departments and HMOs, as well as in consulting firms and independent practices. In each environment, they fulfill a number of roles and carry out an extensive list of responsibilities.

Medical Record Review

Legal nurse consultants review medical records to help determine whether professional negligence occurred, to summarize injuries and treatment and to identify any missing or tampered records. Medical records also offer a legal nurse consultant insight into the standard of care provided to a client.

In the process of reviewing and deciphering a case, legal nurse consultants provide education to attorneys regarding medical facts, timelines for care, treatments provided to the patient, nursing terminology and other relevant health care information. Their legal nurse consultant certification and experience gives them the ability to serve as liaisons between the attorneys, physicians and clients involved in a particular case or claim.

Investigations

Investigation plays an important role in legal nurse consulting. As investigators, legal nurse consultants may provide services such as these:  Research compensation and disability claims to determine the merits of the claim.

Examine fraud and abuse case of government agencies, Medicaid, Medicare. Fraud and abuse may involve physicians, hospitals or agencies that provide services to the patient. These investigations may include looking into potential misconduct of a health care provider or facility.

Trial Work

In preparing cases to go to trial, legal nurse consultants prepare medical fact reports and summaries, chronologies of medical events, graphic exhibits and other evidence. They also may also develop questions for attorneys to use during medical depositions. They may be involved in interviewing participants involved in a case and preparing witnesses for testifying at trial.

Legal Nurse Consultants may be called as experts at trial, to provide medical facts, data and expert opinions based on the evidence. They are providing testimony on their experience and background as nurses, not as legal experts. Along with offering testimony, a legal nurse consultant's job may involve locating and retaining expert witnesses who can offer specialized insight and knowledge relevant to the circumstances of a case.

The base requirement for being a legal nurse consultant is that you have extensive experience in the practice of nursing. Some training relevant to the legal system should also be obtained. Training involves a review of investigation procedures and proper documentation to present your information. Many programs offer a variety of educational programs with differences in content, price and duration of the training program. Certification programs are also important to review upon completion of your training. Although certification is not a requirement for employment it does provide you with additional credibility when looking for employment.